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Open Access Publications from the University of California


SFEWS provides credible scientific information on California's complex water issues, linking new science to policy with great effect. SFEWS retains a regional focus on the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, also known as the Bay–Delta watershed. At the heart of open access from the California Digital Library, SFEWS's scholarly output ranks #1 for the UC Davis Institute  of the Environment and ranks #3 campus wide.

Volume 12, Issue 2, 2014

Issue cover


Essays on the California Drought

Abstracts are not presented with Editorials. --SFEWS Editors

Policy and Program Analysis

Examining the Causes and Consequences of Hybridization During Chinook Salmon Reintroductions: Using the San Joaquin River as a Restoration Case Study of Management Options

Successful salmonid restoration efforts depend upon an understanding of the evolutionary processes that historically shaped population diversity, as well as the realities of currently available, altered river systems. Habitat alterations over the past century have dramatically changed the ecological forces that shaped salmonid speciation and evolution, bringing formerly separate and distinct populations into contact and in some cases leading to hybridization. Hybridization can threaten the genetic diversity within salmonid species and may affect the outcomes of restoration efforts. Here we use the San Joaquin River Restoration as a case study to discuss some of the genetic challenges of Chinook salmon restoration in a newly reopened habitat. We discuss a range of genetic management strategies—from passive reintroduction to tightly managed, active reintroduction—and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.


Research Article

Impounded Marshes on Subsided Islands: Simulated Vertical Accretion, Processes, and Effects, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, CA USA

There is substantial interest in stopping and reversing the effects of subsidence in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta (Delta) where organic soils predominate. Also, the passage of California Assembly Bill 32 in 2006 created the potential to trade credits for carbon sequestered in wetlands on subsided Delta islands. The primary purpose of the work described here was to estimate future vertical accretion and understand processes that affect vertical accretion and carbon sequestration in impounded marshes on subsided Delta islands. Using a cohort-accounting model, we simulated vertical accretion from 4,700 calibrated years before present (BP) at a wetland area located within Franks Tract State Recreation Area (lat 38.059, long −121.611, hereafter, “Franks Wetland”)—a small, relatively undisturbed marsh island—and at the Twitchell Island subsidence-reversal demonstration project since 1997. We used physical and chemical data collected during the study as well as literature values for model inputs. Model results compared favorably with measured rates of vertical accretion, mass of carbon sequestered, bulk density and organic matter content.

From 4,700 to model-estimated 350 years BP, the simulated rate of vertical accretion at Franks Wetland averaged about 0.12 cm yr-1, which is within the range of rates in tidal wetlands worldwide. Our model results indicate that large sediment inputs during the last 150 to 200 years resulted in a higher accretion rate of 0.3 cm yr -1. On Twitchell Island, greater organic inputs resulted in average vertical accretion rates as high as 9.2 cm yr -1. Future simulations indicate that the managed impounded marsh will accrete highly organic material at rates of about 3 cm yr -1. Model results coupled with GIS analysis indicate that large areas of the periphery of the Delta, if impounded and converted to freshwater marsh, could be restored to tidal elevations within 50 to 100 years. Most of the central Delta would require 50 to 250 years to be restored to projected mean sea level. A large portion of the western Delta could be restored to mean sea level within 50 to 150 years (large areas on Sherman, Jersey, and Bethel islands, and small areas on Bradford, Twitchell, and Brannan islands, and Webb Tract). We estimated that long-term carbon sequestration rates for impounded marshes such as the Twitchell Island demonstration ponds will range from 12 to 15 metric tons carbon ha-1 yr-1. Creation of impounded marshes on Delta islands can substantially benefit levee stability as demonstrated by cumulative force and hydraulic gradient calculations.


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Distribution and Invasion Potential of Limonium ramosissimum subsp. provinciale in San Francisco Estuary Salt Marshes

Non-native sea lavenders (Limonium spp.) are invasive in salt marshes of southern California and were first documented in the San Francisco Estuary (the estuary) in 2007. In this study, we mapped distributions of L. ramosissimum subsp. provinciale (LIRA) and L. duriusculum within the estuary and investigated how the invasion potential of the more common species, LIRA, varies with elevation and edaphic conditions. We contacted colleagues and conducted field searches to find and then map sea lavender populations. In addition, we measured LIRA’s elevational range at three salt marshes. Across this range we measured (1) soil properties: salinity, moisture, bulk density, and texture; and (2) indicators of invasion potential: LIRA size, seed production, percent cover, spread (over 1 year), recruitment, and competition with native halophytes (over 6 months). We found LIRA in 15,144 m2 of upper salt marsh habitat in central and south San Francisco bays and L. duriusculum in 511 m2 in Richardson and San Pablo bays. LIRA was distributed from mean high water (MHW) to 0.42 m above mean higher high water (MHHW). In both spring and summer, soil moisture and salinity were lowest at higher elevations within LIRA’s range, which corresponded with greater rosette size, inflorescence and seed production (up to 17,400 seeds per plant), percent cover, and recruitment. LIRA cover increased on average by 11% in 1 year across marshes and elevations. Cover of the native halophytes Salicornia pacifica, Jaumea carnosa, and Distichlis spicata declined significantly at all elevations if LIRA were present in plots (over a 6-month, fall–winter period). Results suggest LIRA’s invasion potential is highest above MHHW where salinity and moisture are lower, but that LIRA competes with native plants from MHW to above MHHW. We recommend removal efforts with emphasis on the salt marsh-terrestrial ecotone where LIRA seed output is highest.

  • 2 supplemental PDFs